What Is Leadership?

Leadership is a repeated subject matter of business discussions, but do we really know what leadership truly means? Defining leadership can be much harder than we think because it means different things to different people. To make it easier, maybe let’s begin with what leadership is not…

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What Isn’t Leadership?

People generally connect leadership with executive positions in the hierarchy of a company, but not all executives are leaders. Reaching a certain pay grade doesn’t make us leaders. To become a leader, you need much more than a senior position because leadership isn’t about titles. Having a C-level title doesn’t immediately make you a leader, and vice versa. Even without an official title, you can be a great leader because you don’t need a title to lead.  

Too many people perceive leadership as a synonym for management. These two terms are not synonyms. When you are a manager, you have subordinates who follow directions. When you a leader, you have followers who want to exceed your expectations. The power of leaders is based on influence, not on control. Leaders have a vision and inspire people to transform challenges into successes, whereas managers plan, monitor, coordinate day-to-day activities. As can be seen, leadership and management are two completely separate concepts. 

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How to Define Leadership?

Leadership is a process of social impact, which boosts the motivation of a team to accomplish a certain aim.

Leadership is all about creating a vision and exerting an influence on others to make it happen. True leaders set direction, make a difference, and change a world. They make other people believe in their vision and show them that the impossible becomes possible. Their enthusiasm is both infectious and powerful. Too many people think leaders are born, but it is rarely true. Actually, leadership is a set of skills that can be mastered and honed over time. Even without a formal title like a CEO, you can inspire others to achieve goals and become their best selves. What’s more, when you master the art of leadership, you can empower others to become successful leaders as well. Note that iconic leaders have remarkable mentors who help them develop leadership skills and achieve goals. 

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The Significance of Leadership

Getting things done lies at the heart of leadership. Outstanding leaders are famous for uniting their teams around their visions and following them out. They successfully steer their companies for many years and by making them effective, innovative, and agile, eventually, put them in the lead. Most importantly, by building a motivational and positive company culture, efficient leadership decreases staff turnover what eventually boosts the company’s bottom line. Strong leaders provide their teams with a sense of purpose and an attitude of constant performance improvement.  

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Leadership As a Set of Skills

A popular belief about leadership is that it’s something people are born with, and brilliant leaders possess some innate magical quality that makes them lead better than others. But that is a total misconception. Leadership is like a muscle we can develop and build up over time. Generally, leadership is a set of skills that we can brush up on and use to become better and better leaders. It includes:

  • Strategic thinking skills
  • Change management skills 
  • People management skills
  • Planning skills
  • Delivery skills
  • Innovation Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Persuasion skills 
  • Influencing skills

As leadership skills are skills like any others, it is possible to develop them, but it takes a lot of effort and determination. To achieve this goal, you need to make a plan and stick to it. The best way to become proficient at anything is by practicing so it is crucial to set up a routine of mastering particular leadership skills over a long time. If your plan is to become an influential leader, setting the right goals and executing them should be your habit. At the end of the day, leadership is about delivering results. 

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What is Your Definition of Leadership?

When you ask the CEOs, each of them will probably have their own definition of leadership which will say much about their leadership style and what is important to them as leaders. It will also show how they lead, what leaders they are, and what culture they are building. Some of them will focus on a vision or strategy, while others will stress out social influence or human qualities. 

Despite plenty of definitions of leadership, each company should create a consistent definition of leadership to define what it means to be a leader within an organization. By composing such a definition, a company will set up its own coherent corporate culture and help its leaders develop what may be very beneficial for its future growth. As the business world is constantly changing and the leaders are changing as well, we can adjust our definition of leadership to the circumstance over time, but any definition is better than no definition. 

A shared definition of leadership can help create leadership filters that will screen out particular people for leadership positions. When we have the right definition in place, we can promote the leaders who are willing to meet clear business goals, follow specific leadership styles, and display certain character traits. For example, a very empathetic leader wouldn’t be successful in a company whose main goal is to generate profits and meet financial goals. Therefore, leadership filters should reflect not only company culture but also company values. Setting up the right leadership filters is critical because they define requirements that leaders have to meet. As a result, a consistent work environment is sustained and everybody is on the same page. Then it is possible to create a leadership program within an organization that will help create a specified type of future leader.

A very good example is IBM which created an intensive leadership program whose aim is to attract, develop, and promote suitable candidates for leadership positions. Its first step is the recruitment process when potential leaders are identified. To hire the right candidates, IBM first determines the skills and mindsets which are required of successful leaders and later screens potential applicants for those qualities.  

Conclusion To sum up, leadership entails such elements as a vision, influence, integrity, or power, but its core, but often forgotten goal is to deliver results. The quality of leadership actions is measured by the end results which should be consistent with the company’s purpose. Leaders are usually evaluated by not what they know but by what they deliver so the most effective leaders are results-oriented and their leadership is always results-based.

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